March 31, 2010 9:11:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State''s appeal to the NCAA to reduce Renardo Sidney''s punishment fell short Tuesday as the ruling handed down at the beginning of March was upheld.
The original penalty, which stated the Mississippi State men''s basketball signee will lose a year of eligibility and be forced to miss the first nine games of the 2010-11 season, will remain as the The Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee turned down Mississippi State''s appeal of the nine-game suspension.
Sidney, a Jackson native, sat all of the 2009-10 season while the NCAA investigated whether the McDonald''s and Parade All-American received improper benefits while playing high school basketball.
On March 5, the academic and membership affairs staff ruled Sidney must pay back $11,800 for "impermissible" benefits received and lose a year of eligibility after it was deemed he lied to investigators about a January 2006 trip to California. As a result, the NCAA tagged on an unethical conduct charge, which resulted in the lost year of eligibility.
MSU didn''t appeal the monetary repayment, which can be made over the duration of Sidney''s eligibility.
The university did appeal the totality of the withholding, part of which is based on the 10-1 violation (unethical conduct charge) and the extra benefits received.
Tuesday''s ruling closes the door on what was an 11-month process and extensive investigation to see if Sidney would ever step foot on the court at Mississippi State.
MSU athletic director Greg Byrne was disappointed the appeal was turned down.
"After the initial ruling from the NCAA, we felt that we were on solid ground for an appeal," Byrne said in a university release. "We''re obviously disappointed with the outcome. From the beginning we believed and continue to believe Renardo deserves to be a student-athlete at Mississippi State."
MSU compliance director Bracky Brett outlined the appeal process that took place Tuesday, with representatives from MSU, the Sidney family and the NCAA taking part in a teleconference that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.
Sidney and his mother, Patricia, were on the call along with family attorney Don Jackson.
Each side had a chance to speak before the NCAA convened at the end and deliberated on a decision. MSU was notified of the decision at 3:45 p.m, Brett said.
A decision was expected in late April or early May, but Brett said the process "didn''t really happen any quicker" than he anticipated.
Brett added, "The appeal is just based upon established facts and there''s no introduction of anything new. It''s just where the institution has a chance to present mitigating circumstances to the committee."
Exactly what those circumstances were or what the basis for MSU''s appeal was is unknown. Brett declined to comment on Mississippi State''s reasoning.
The NCAA could have justified a reduction if the "mitigating factors" warranted so, but the current punishment could not increase or have additional punishment added.
The NCAA declined to comment on why it rejected MSU''s appeal, but Brett said the university will get a "written rationale" from the committee, which will not include how the committee voted on the appeal.
Jackson, as he''s done from the outset, blasted the NCAA''s grounds for making their decision and carrying out the investigation based on Sidney''s "failure to recall details of a trip that was taken during his ninth grade year."
"It was quite apparent at the outset of this investigation that the Eligibility Center''s primary focus was to impose a suspension upon this youngster (either de facto or based upon violations of NCAA legislation)," Jackson said. "When it became clear that there was no factual basis to establish violations of amateurism legislation, the focus shifted to finding a basis to justify this investigation (at any cost).
"Today''s findings were confirmation of that goal."
The biggest news of all?
Jackson confirmed Sidney will be in a Mississippi State uniform next season.
1. Player of Week: Davis, Starkville off to fast start HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Bulldogs turn attention to UAB COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy looks to build on first win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS